After almost 4 months in China, I just found out about the Shaolin Temple which is only 1 hour away from my hotel. Since Sunday was my day off, and I had no other plans, I didn’t think twice about going on a little trip. Luckily, organizing trips like this in China is not so hard because everyone is connected through an app called weChat.
On my way to the temple, I found out it had been established 1500yrs ago. According to legends, the temple was known as the birthplace of kung fu. The foundation of the Shaolin is practice and meditation, which requires time and investment, so if you want to go there and learn kung fu skill in a month or two you will be a little bit disappointed. Through the history, the temple was partly or fully destroyed a couple of times.
The number of tourists was a bit surprising, considering the entrance ticket which cost around 15$ (on a ticket shop there are some tickets for 8$ but I guess they are for kids or domestic people). Shaolin temple is placed about 15 minutes walk from the entrance. Luckily, you can take a ride in an electric car from the on that path, and it costs 3$, but I decided to take a walk. I like the feel of making effort while experiencing new things.
I was kinda disappointed how everything behind the walls looked fake and soulless. Young monks with phones in their hand looked like they don’t belong to that temple. Even the show done by kung-fu learners looked a bit amateurish. The soulless feeling was enlarged after looking of buildings that are in process of making, they look the same age as other buildings in the area.
After leaving the main building, I went down to the Pagoda forest. This buildings serves as a tomb for eminent monks and abbots. The Forest is filled with around 240 pagodas, the oldest one built in 618 AD. The look and the number of tombstone floors tell about the importance the priest had. All area is fenced, it was unusual to see that people actually don’t go inside it.
After visiting the forest, I found a cable car leading to near mountain. The ride was the best experience on the trip. After 20minutes of riding on a rusty, old equipment, I finally made it to the top. There was a very authentic and original building. From my point of view, this was an experience that I wanted to see in the main temple without so many charades and fakeness. The place wasn’t very crowded, so I took the time for some photos.
The funny part was people welcoming me to their country. Some of them even wanted to take pictures of me with their children. The hospitality of the Chinese always surprises me. Some woman saved me from buying fake vintage pipes in the local shop.
I crossed almost 19 miles during this trip. Although it wasn’t as fulfilling as I thought it would be, in the end, it was fun to see that life and culture.